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Searching for Roots through a Literature Festival
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival 2023 showcased a series of panel discussions, interactive sessions with authors, and a workshop on creative writing on Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2023.

Recently concluded Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival 2023 witnessed a unique literary confluence of authors, translators, art connoisseurs, critics, budding writers and young people. The three-day festival on Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2023 showcased a series of panel discussions, interactive sessions with authors, a workshop on creative writing, a thematic prize money quiz competition, a multilingual poetry recitation, launching of books and splendid cultural programs organised at Asom Sahitya Sabha and District Library premises. Organized by Sankardev Education and Research Foundation with the theme ‘In Search of Roots’, was a real intellectual & interactive treat for thousands of literary enthusiasts which propagated the rich cultural heritage of the land with a noble initiative to rediscover and redefine the legends of Pragjyotishpur.

Launching the literature festival with lighting of the sacred lamp, the organizing committee chief Phanindra Kumar Devchoudhury emphasised on showcasing the history, culture and languages of eastern Bharat in the right perspective. Expressing anger over the tendency of many highly educated people to undermine the heritage of their own land, Devchoudhury argued that many intellectuals try to define Indian literature with foreign theories only to cover up the serenity of ancient civilizations.

National Book Trust-India chairman Milind Sudhakar Marathe, who was present in the inaugural function, insisted on creating purposeful literature for the well-being of society in general. He urged the new generation writers to come out of the colonial mindset with extensive study, interaction and resolutions for engaging in the futuristic creative exercises. The function began with a mantra invoking ‘Shipar Sandhanat’, a performance of Saraswati Vandana by teachers & students of Birubari Sankardev Vidya Niketan, a chorus by Tezpur Shilpi Samaj and a Bhoar Taal Nritya by Sadhana Shilpi Samaj and concluded with a Bharat Bandana performance.

Scholarly writer Joshi from Jawaharlal Nehru University, during a conversation with researcher Namrata Pathak, spoke about the fake secularism embracing love jihad in various higher education centres. Quoting her own novel ‘JNU Mein Ek Ladki Rehti Thi,’ Joshi described the hypocrisy in the name of Marxism that still exists in the premier institution. Finally she urged the budding writers to learn how to judge the wrong and right contents in their own life and literary creations. Making themselves responsible writers to the society, Joshi hoped that the new generation would use their literary works for the process of nation building.

Auniati Satra’s Satradhikar Pitambar Devgoswami and Rabindranath Tagore University’s vice-chancellor Amalendu Chakrabarty spoke on ‘Neo Vaishnavism of Bharata and Sankardev,’ which was moderated by Purandar Barua. They put together views on many unique characteristics of Srimanta Sankardev, the 15th century saint, philosopher and social reformer, along with his prime disciple Shri Madhabdev, who shaped the culture of present-day Assam. Sahitya Akademi awardee author-translator Diganta Biswa Sarma in the valedictory function discussed the eras of literature created in the West and at the same time criticized the concept of post-modern era. He lamented that this kind of Western thinking has taken away Indian culture from the Sanatani values. Sarma appreciated that the literature festival adopted a pertinent theme, which needed a pragmatic discussion with a wider audience.

In recent past, literature festivals become very popular in India, where book lovers, writer-authors, playwrights, music-film appreciators, social thinkers, editor-journalists etc rub their soldiers propagating the beauty of regional literary works as well. Prior to this literature festival, Assam witnessed a few editions of Guwahati Literature Festival and Brahmaputra Literary Festival. While the first one was organised by a group of writers, the second one was initially patronised by the NBT, which attracted a number of foreign authors besides many national and regional literary activists. Later the State government run Asom Prakashan Parishad organized the festival at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra independently.

Now Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival has proudly joined the list of annual festivals comprising the Jaipur Literary Festival, Kolkata Literary Festival, Bangalore Literature Festival, Kerala Literature Festival, Pune International Literary Festival, Mumbai Queensline Literature Festival, Nagpur Orange City Literature Festival, Gurgaon Literature Festival, Chandigarh Literature Festival, Dehradun Valley of Words, Kumaon Festival of Literature & Arts, Goa Arts and Literature Festival, Times Literature Festival, etc with a larger vision and commitments.

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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at






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